By Deborah Simmons, PhD, LMF
I wrote this article for the Springm 2013 Resolve national newsletter, For the Journey and Beyond Please share it with others so that Mother's Day can be different this year.
THIS YEAR, MAKE MOTHER'S DAY YOUR OWN
Advertisers sell Mother’s Day as a day filled with family celebrations. For many who are undergoing fertility treatment and family building, this manufactured holiday can generate anxiety, dread, and anger. You want to be one of the people being celebrated, but you are not there yet.
This year, you can decide what you want to do about those ads and others’ requests that you “happy up” for Mother's Day. Let this day become your own personal Empowerment Day. You may not feel that you have many choices about fertility treatment, but you absolutely do have choices about how you approach Mother's Day.
Rather than a day of “Why?” let this become a day of “How?” Ask yourself:
“How am I doing on my journey to parenting?”
“How do I need to change my perspective or treatment protocol?”
“How would I LIKE to spend the day?”
Let this be a decision day about where you are in your life, not just in your attempts to conceive. Let this be a day that is all about you. Embrace self-care as part of your quest to be a mother.
Did you know that you do not have to attend celebrations, even though you have been asked or even if someone demanded you attend? What would you like to do? Being honest does not make you Debbie Downer. It makes you human, and real, and a person. Here’s a truth—someone else may not like you making a different kind of decision, but you will do better. You have absolute permission to stay in bed the entire day, to cry, and to breathe.
But there are other options. You might do something you enjoy by yourself or with your partner. Commit to changing your diet to better support your health and well-being, not just your fertility. Let this be a day when you have that glass of wine or big cup of coffee that you avoid while you are doing fertility treatment. Commit on that day to living in the most authentic, empowered way you can. Remind yourself that you are a person on this earth and you matter. You deserve love and compassion 365 days of the year.
Here’s another thought that might be surprising. Mother’s Day is just a Sunday, as there are 51 others throughout the year. God will support you if you choose not to attend a church service that day where the sanctuary is overflowing with children. You, yes you, get to choose on Empowerment Day.
In advance, commit to talking with your clergy person about how he or she can recognize the struggle of parents-to-be. He or she may have no idea how difficult it is for you on a daily basis, but especially during holidays that promote and celebrate families. What if we all suggested that clergy set aside for a day of prayer for those who are struggling to bring their dreams of parenting to reality?
You can also choose to engage in celebration of your own mother. This year, find a way to do so that fits with your love for her and for yourself. In whatever ways you choose to spend that day, empower yourself to be the beautiful person you were before your fertility journey began and the person you will be after your fertility challenges are resolved.
Deborah S. Simmons, PhD, LMFT is co-owner of Partners in Healing of Minneapolis. Dr. Simmons has been a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine for 15 years and has counseled many individuals and couples during the journey to parenting.